As part of the Artist Residency program at Art in General, Chemi Rosado Seijo (Puerto Rico) will come to New York for two months to engage with the public while creating an installation in the gallery and a documentary on the streets. His exhibition opening on October 1, 2005, Historia Sobre Ruedas, Mapping NYC (History on Wheels, Mapping NYC), is a continuation of an earlier work that looks at the parallel worlds of contemporary art and skateboarding.
A skateboarder in his teens, Chemi took up the board again in 2001 at the age of 27 and in 2002, he established San Juan’s only public skate park in his ware-house sized studio. Attracting skaters, surfers, artists, writers and others from his neighborhood, his studio became a well-known gathering spot to watch the art in action. As a student at Escuela de Artes Plasticas de Puerto Rico, Chemi had often used the practice of skateboarding as a mode of perception, an alternative urban map, and as a playful rebellion against the staid uses of everyday architecture. He also mounted skateboard trucks and wheels on a contemporary art text book and built a concave skate ramp inside Ex-Teresa, a converted church, as a reflection of the soaring cupola above.
His previous “skateboard” projects draw on the formative years of skateboarding culture, when it was called “sidewalk surfing” and skateboarders practiced basic tricks and used the board not for competition, but for entertainment, socializing and transportation. Chemi explored the similarity between the history of post-1950’s conceptual art and the act of skateboarding, which both allow a new contextualization of the familiar and present new ways of mark-making. Scuffing up a curb, winding through pedestrians and grinding every bench in sight draws a path that may be as randomly-determined as an action painting.
While in New York City, Chemi plans to explore every possible skateboarding spot—in a cartography on wheels—to create an alternative map of the city using photos, drawings, video and actually marking the map on the streets. He will also produce a documentary of his mapping, touring and skating, incorporating interviews with skateboarders and others he meets along his rides. All the materials gathered during his investigation will become part of an installation in the fourth floor gallery at Art in General.